(10)Iowa State Cyclones vs (7)Notre Dame Fighting Irish
NCAA Tournament 2nd Round | West Region
University of Dayton Arena | Dayton, Ohio
Time – Approx. 8:45 PM CT | TV – CBS
A clash of completely different basketball styles will be on display in the final second round matchup of the West region in this year’s NCAA Tournament. Will Iowa State’s quick perimeter shooting be able to stretch out Notre Dame’s defense, or will the Irish be able to control a slower tempo and force the Cyclones to create shots?
If things turn into a half-court game, Notre Dame would have the advantage. Iowa State isn’t far behind from the Irish’s 17 assists per game (ISU has 16 per game), but Notre Dame leads the nation in assist-turnover ratio. The Cyclones are 38th nationally in that category, thanks in large part to Korie Lucious cleaning things up from earlier this season.
[Also see: Projected Starting Lineups]
One of the biggest battles will be how many assists Lucious gets compared to ND’s point guard, Jerian Grant, who leads the team with 5.7 assists per game. He had a stellar performance throughout the Big East Tournament getting 16 assists, 13 rebounds, four blocks, and seven steals through three games against Rutgers, Marquette, and Louisville. The only blemish was coughing it up six times against the Cardinals.
Another battle will be rebounding between Jack Cooley and Melvin Ejim, or Will Clyburn if Ejim gets into foul trouble. More than likely, both will need to have great efforts to stop Cooley who averages a double-double with 13.1 points and 10.3 rebounds per game.
Iowa State needs to turn things more into an up-and-down tempo. Notre Dame is actually a pretty efficient shooting team hitting 52.3 percent from the field, but the Cyclones can limit that by not turning the ball over – luckily the Irish are one of the worst teams in the nation at forcing turnovers. Opponents average just 10.4 cough-ups per game.
If the 3-pointer doesn’t fall for Iowa State it’s not the end of the world. Notre Dame only gives up an average of 5.4 made attempts per game, but Iowa State generally wins games even when the shots don’t fall.
The Cyclones need to be hitting 3-point shots in transition, stretching out the Irish defenders, and creating lanes to drive the ball inside down the stretch. Korie Lucious being effective both scoring and passing the ball is a must. Since Notre Dame doesn’t force many turnovers, Iowa State shouldn’t be in position to give up the ball a lot.
[Also see: Keys To Victory Over Notre Dame]
All the above will happen, even away from Hilton Coliseum. Fred Hoiberg is confident after watching his team practice on Thursday. Lucious should be able to rebound from his scoring slump in the Big 12 Tournament. Along with two players that rank near the top on rebounding in the Big 12, there’s enough here for Iowa State to make a run through the wild West region. All there needs to be is some consistency.
Cyclones 76, Fighting Irish 68